Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

The Germans Invade Nasielsk II

What did your father say?

Nothing. But we were just frightened. We were just holding on to what everybody--first time I looked in the faces of several of the, the helplessness of grownups. You know, as a kid, we always looked, you know, for somebody that's older than you. They know all the answers. They will protect. And if you ask them a question, they'll tell you where to go. But that's why you're a kid, and he is a grownup. And, when I looked, and it, it--just how to describe that feeling. It's like you're floating--all of a sudden there is no floor. You're like living in a vacuum, like weightlessness, and, you go and people were walking in one area going to the--if I remember, it was somebody said, "Let's go to..." and they named a little town across the river, so everybody started--I mean, that's all it took, somebody said, "Let's go here," and people would follow, because there was nobody that could come up with a better answer. So we followed, and we were just about two miles out of the city, people were coming towards us, and we asked them, uh, they said, "Where are you going?" So we told them, "Well, somebody said let's cross the ???." That was a bridge there that you could cross the river. So they said, "We were coming from there. The bridge is already destroyed. There's no place to go." So we turned back, and we went back to the city. We came back to the city, and it was like waiting for an execution. We didn't know how this would play itself out.

And when they came in--when they marched in?

And when they came in, I remember, that first night--it was a night that I will never forget. I remember, we used to look out the windows, and there were fires all over the city, you know. They, they, they got into the shul and took all the Torah's and made a bonfire. And they were throwing them up in the air, and it was like you'd see sparks and all the books--all the Talmud...Talmudic books and the siddurim and everything. And throughout the city, they were breaking into houses looking for women, and I lived through, you know, that night. I remember my mother and my aunt, and they were all got together in one bedroom, and smeared their faces up, you know. I couldn't understand what it was, you know, disheveled hair and everything my mother was very young. She was like 39 or 40.

How old were you?

I was fourteen, and I remember standing when they broke in--they came in, you know, with flashlights, looking for women.

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